Highlights of Japan
Highlights of Japan
Highlights of Japan
Highlights of Japan
Highlights of Japan
Highlights of Japan
Highlights of Japan
Highlights of Japan
Highlights of Japan
Highlights of Japan
Highlights of Japan
Highlights of Japan

Highlights of Japan

Regular price
Sale price

Small Group Journey by Rail (min 4 / max 16 passengers)
English speaking local guides
10 Days ex Tokyo
Departs Sundays

2024 Departure Dates (Departs Sundays)
Feb 04; Mar 10, 24; Apr 07, 14; May 05, 19; Jun 02, 16, 30; Aug 25; Sep 15; Oct 13; Nov 03

2025 Departure Dates (Departs Sundays)
Feb 02; Mar 09, 23; Apr 13

Embark on a captivating 10-day small group tour of Japan. As you traverse the iconic landscapes and historic cities, the seamless convenience of Japan Rail will whisk you from one destination to the next. Your adventure begins amidst the vibrant energy of Tokyo, where modernity meets tradition in a dynamic blend of cutting-edge technology and ancient charm. From the serene hot springs of Hakone to the picturesque streets of Takayama, expert local guides will unveil hidden gems and cultural treasures, providing a deeper understanding of Japan's fascinating history. Culminating in the cultural epicenter of Kyoto, this small group tour promises an immersive experience, allowing you to savour the diverse flavours, landscapes, and traditions that define the Land of the Rising Sun.


  • Join sumo wrestlers and experience a tasty "chanko" lunch (a Japanese stew traditionally eaten by sumo wrestlers) while learning about their unique traditions
  • Stay in a ryokan, a traditional Japanese Hotel in the beautiful mountain town of Hakone, on the doorstep of Mt Fuji
  • Relax in a traditional onsen
  • Discover ancient Takayama and the immaculately preserved traditional wooden houses dating to the Edo period
  • Explore Kyoto, Japan's cultural capital and home to over 2000 shrines and temples
  • Follow the meandering paths through the soaring stalks of bamboo which make up the bamboo groves of Arashiyama just outside of Kyoto
  • Experience a traditional kaiseki meal as you are entertained by a Maiko (an apprentice Geisha) in Kyoto

Day 1: Tokyo

Welcome to Japan. Upon arrival at Narita or Haneda Airport, you will be met by an English speaking assistant in the arrival lobby. A shared shuttle bus will transfer you to your hotel where accommodation has been reserved for two nights. The remainder of the day is free at leisure to explore Tokyo independently. Overnight in Tokyo.

Day 2: Tokyo (BL)

This morning meet your fellow travellers and tour guide for a tour briefing before embarking on your exploration of Tokyo. Discover Tokyo on foot and the underground rail network. Visit serene Meiji Jingu, Tokyo’s most famous Shinto shrine with a 12 metre high torii gate at the entrance. Continue to the Imperial Palace to see Nijubashi, a metal bridge built in 1888. Travel by train to Asakusa, one of Tokyo’s liveliest districts, and home to some of the city’s best street food, and old izakaya and yakitori restaurants. Learn about the world of sumo as you sample a ‘chanko’ sumo lunch with some sumo wrestlers. After lunch, try on a sumo suit and test your skills against a professional. Spend time exploring Asakusa before returning to your hotel.

Day 3: Tokyo - Hakone (BD)

Take the train from Tokyo to Hakone, best known for its views of the mountains, natural beauty and hot springs. Travel on the ropeway for beautiful views of Lake Ashi and on a clear day, see iconic Mt Fuji. Sail across the waters of Lake Ashi on a pirate ship before returning to your accommodation. Stay in a ryokan, a traditional Japanese Hotel. Enjoy a sumptuous Japanese dinner, soak in the onsite onsen and sleep in an atmospheric tatami-floored room, on a futon mattress. Overnight Hakone.

Day 4: Hakone - Takayama (BL)

From Hakone, travel by train to ancient Takayama, famous for its well preserved old town district and traditional atmosphere. A bento box is provided for lunch en-route. Visit Takayama Jinya, a former government building which offers insights into Japan’s history. Stroll along Kami Sannomachi Street to see the immaculately preserved traditional wooden houses. View the elaborate festival floats at the Takayama Matsuri Yatai Kaikan and enjoy free time before walking back to the hotel. Stay the next two nights in Takayama.

Day 5: Takayama (B)

Spend the day at leisure exploring Takayama and its surrounds at your own pace. You may choose to visit Shirakawago, a World Heritage Listed protected village famous for its stunning natural beauty and steeply pitched thatched roofs designed to withstand the heavy winter snowfall. Discover the shrines and temples of the Teramachi district or travel a short distance to Hida-Furukawa to admire the preserved buildings.

Day 6: Takayama - Kyoto (B)

Travel by train to Kyoto, Japan’s cultural capital, a hub for Geisha and the home of royal cuisine. There will be some free time prior to your late afternoon sightseeing excursion. Join a walking tour along Ponto-cho and Hanami-koji Lane in the Gion district where you may see a Geisha walking between appointments. Stay the next four nights in Kyoto.

Day 7: Kyoto (B)

Spend the day walking and travelling by public transport to discover Kyoto’s highlights. Take the train to Arashiyama Bamboo Forest and marvel at the towering stalks of bamboo before continuing to Tenryuji Temple. See Katsura River from Togetsukyo Bridge and take the iconic purple Randen Train to Ryoanji Temple, the site of the most famous rock garden in Japan. Visit the Golden Pavilion (Kinkaku-ji), an elegant, gilded 14th century building which is one of Japan’s most cherished sites.

Day 8: Kyoto (B)

Discover Kyoto and its surrounds with a free day to explore independently. Take the train to the historic city of Hiroshima, venture to Osaka to see Osaka Castle, meet Nara’s deer population or visit Himeji Castle – the choice is yours.

Day 9: Kyoto (BD)

Spend a free day exploring Kyoto at your own pace. This evening, there will be a special kaiseki farewell dinner while being entertained by a Maiko (an apprentice Geisha).

Day 10: Kyoto (B)

After breakfast, it is time to say goodbye. Walk to Kyoto Train Station and make your own way to the airport for your oward flight.


  • 8 nights in 3-4 star hotel accommodation with daily breakfast
  • 1 night Ryokan accommodation - traditional Japanese guesthouse (futon-style flat beds)
  • Meals as mentioned in the itinerary (Breakfast daily, 2 local lunches, 2 local dinners)
  • Meet and greet at Tokyo Narita or Haneda Airport by English speaking assistant
  • Transfer from Narita or Haneda Airport on Day 1 by shared airport shuttle service
  • Transfer to Kyoto Airport on Day 10 by Japan Rail (included in 7-Day Japan Rail Pass)
  • 7-Day Japan Rail Pass (usage commences Day 4)
  • Sightseeing as specified including entrance fees
  • English-speaking local guides, public transport for day tours
  • Entrance fees
  • Luggage tansport
  • Japan Travel Notes – issued by Innovative Travel


  • International airfares
  • Meals other than those specified
  • Optional tours and excursions
  • Porterage
  • Tipping/Gratuities (please refer to tour notes for a recommended guideline)
  • Personal Expenses
  • Departure taxes
  • Hotel charges for minibar or any extra charges
  • Visas (unless specified)
  • Insurance
  • Any other services not clearly mentioned in the inclusions above
Accommodation based on the following or similar.
Please note that some accommodation is on futon-style flat beds.
The hotel selection may change – please use this as a guideline only.


Shinjuku Washington Hotel


Susukinohara Ichinoyu (Ryokan-traditional Japanese hotel)


Takayama Ouan


Miyako Hotel Kyoto Hachijo

The hotels specified offer the facilities you need to feel at home, even when you're away from it. In some provincial areas, facilities may be more limited. Where possible, hotels are chosen for local history, style and charm, and always for location.
Double rooms can be requested however on occasions this may not be possible and a twin room will be provided.  
Hotel room sizes in Japan (especially single rooms) are relatively small by international standards.
Some tours include a stay at a traditional 'ryokan' inn. In this style of accommodation, you will sleep on a futon mattress on a tatami mat floor, however you will still have basic private bathroom facilities.
Dress Code
There is no strict dress code for visiting Japanese temples and shrines however modest/conservative clothing (to show respect at a place of worship) is recommended. Men: long pants. Women: skirt of long pants and shoulders covered.
Hats are to be removed and you may be required to take off your shoes when entering temple buildings.  
You will be required to carry your own luggage at times as porters are not available - you should also be capable of carrying your own bags on and off transport, and up and down stairs. It is strongly recommended that you travel with luggage with wheels and a handle for your comfort.
Luggage courier services are used because most Japanese trains (with the exceptions of the Narita Airport Express servicing Tokyo's Narita Airport, and the Haruka Express servicing Kansai Airport) do not have luggage compartments. Your day-by-day itinerary will note when your main piece of luggage is couriered to an advance destination. Please make sure to bring a smaller luggage bag for over-nighting on nights when you will be separate from your main piece of luggage.
Rail travel is a significant feature of the Japan Small Group Journeys. Japan has one of the most efficient and comfortable rail systems in the world. Trains run on time, almost all the time, and attendant service standards are immaculate. Japan is home of course to the famous shinkansen ‘bullet trains’ which can travel over 300 kilometres per hour (186 miles per hour) and you may travel on some of these. For all these reasons trains are used to cover longer distances in Japan. Your Small Group Journey includes a Japan Rail Pass, which will be provided to you at tour commencement and which you will use to board inter-city trains. As tourist numbers are increasing rapidly, the Central Japan Railway Company has implemented the advanced oversized baggage reservation to ensure the security, safety and convenience of all passengers.

All sightseeing tours require a moderate amount of walking around historical / cultural sites. A good level of fitness will ensure you get a maximum enjoyment from your visit.

Trip prices and dates are correct at the time of the website going live, however all offers are subject to reconfirmation at the time of booking. All featured tour itineraries and offers may be subject to change due to seasonal variations without notice, or due to local conditions or other conditions. Please confirm all details at time of booking. Travel insurance is mandatory for all Innovative Travel bookings. All passports must be valid for 6 months prior to your return to your home country. Visas are the responsibility of the traveller. Special VIP meet and assist offers are available in some destinations for New Zealand passport holders, for other nationalities please check at the time of booking. For full terms and conditions, please refer to our Booking Conditions page.

Japan's Golden Route

Sold out

Secrets of Japan

Sold out

Splendours of Japan

Sold out

Culture and Cuisine of Japan

Sold out

Order a Brochure

Click to view our online brochures. We also offer printed brochures to order. Enquire here


Read testimonials from past Innovative Travellers whom we have helped to explore the globe.

Sign up for Emails

Click to sign up for our amazing email exclusive offers, free events, travel tips, and more.

Contact Us

Email: info@innovativetravel.co.nz

Tel: +64 3 365 3910

NZ Toll Free: 0508 100 111

Aust Toll Free: 1800 157 163